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Andrew Dominik: “Warren Ellis is an unstoppable f*****g force!”

As This Much I Know To Be True hits cinemas tonight, director Andrew Dominik tells Rolling Stone UK about the film's insight into Nick Cave and Warren Ellis' working process

By Nick Reilly

Nick Cave & Warren Ellis
Nick Cave & Warren Ellis (Picture: Charlie Gray)

As This Much I Know To Be True hits cinemas tonight, director Andrew Dominik has opened up on how the film offers a direct insight into the unique working relationship between Nick Cave and bandmate Warren Ellis.

The film, which is in cinemas for one night only , is a part documentary and part performance film that centres around the creative relationship between Cave and his Bad Seeds bandmate. It features performances from their most recent albums ‘Ghosteen’ and ‘Carnage’, while also examining the creative processes behind the two records.

Dominik, who has previously worked with Cave and directed films such as Chopper and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford  – explained how his latest project shows the difference in the way that the pair approach their work.

“Warren’s an unstoppable fucking force that you just have to deal with,” Dominik told Rolling Stone UK.

“He just makes music and isn’t too interested in what the other people are doing! You have to fucking react to it. It puts Nick in a reactive situation.

“He used to be a guy who would bring a song into the band with melodies and all that shit, and he’d sit there and play it for them. Now he’s become this guy who turns up with these songs that he wants to do, but he doesn’t know what Warren is going to do!”

But Dominik says he was able to harness the unpredictability of that relationship and channel it into the film’s aesthetic.

“Now I don’t know if Warren is interested in what Nick brings into the room, but the exciting thing for Nick is that he doesn’t know what he’s going to do next,” he says.

“The process of discovery is captured in the film and it gives them a chance to be surprised by the music in the same way that we would be as listeners.”

Opening up on the performances in the film, which were recorded at Battersea Arts Centre, Dominik says their different working styles come to the fore in a performance of ‘Shattered Ground’, taken from 2021 album Carnage.

“On ‘Shattered Ground’ it’s the first time they’ve played it and Warren is making it up on the spot while Nick is grabbing lyrics from two different songs and singing them! What you’re hearing on the record is what they just did in a three minute period during one day. And that’s amazing, it’s not like they sat down and worked it out. They’re just doing it.”

He added: “Their relationship is really in the music and it’s about how they deal with each other as much as how they make music. They’re on a really good thing, those two. How wonderful it must be to have a collaborator that’s a genius and a really good guy. For both of them, that’s fantastic. And they spend so much time together too, probably more than they spend with their wives.”

Elsewhere in the film, fans are also given the chance to see Cave writing responses for The Red Hand Files – the online fan correspondence site that he established in 2018.

“That site is a way of bringing his mind to heal. He’s not allowing his head to run away with his fucking thoughts because he has to sit down and think responsibly about answering someone’s question. And the people sending them in have experienced the same thing as him, they’re not in control of their lives and life isn’t giving them what they want,” he added.

This Much I Know To Be True is in cinemas for one night only on Wednesday May 11. Tickets and screening information are available here.